The Pillars of Rome
This is the first book in a trilogy from an author more usually known as David Donachie, writer of historical maritime fiction. Set around 200 BC in Rome, the story centres on two friends, Lucius Felenius and Aulus Cornelius. Lucius becomes a ruthless and successful politician in Rome, while Aulus forges a career as a general in the Roman Army. Both, however, face challenges that threaten their pre-eminent positions. Lucius desperately wants a male heir to inherit his legacy and form a new political dynasty; Aulus has to avoid a sudden and potentially lethal scandal when his young wife is rescued successfully after capture by rebel forces, but is newly pregnant.
The cruelty and brutality of political and military life in Rome immediately before the rise of the Caesars is explicit. The story is fascinating and expertly told, narrated intelligently and with élan. For readers who have liked Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series, this is required reading – and is historical fiction at its very best.